I picked this up when it got a Hugo nomination, and went into it pretty excited. The results are fairly mediocre.
This is a book where nothing much happens in the sense that the plot ark is more of a modest bump. This isn't automatically a bad thing in a book because a great character driven story can still provide a fantastic read, but that doesn't happen here, The characters are mildly interesting but never really compelling. What's worse is that some of the more interesting plot threads are simply abandoned by the end without ever being resolved in an ending that is both predictable and rushed.
So why the Hugo nomination? That's easy: nostalgia. Mori, our protagonist, finds direction and solace in science fiction and reads incessantly offering a whose-who of pre-80s name and title dropping and an accompanying analysis of SF writers and stories of the era. I think many critics are willing to overlook a mediocre story because of the nostalgia and fondness they feel at listening to Mori discuss her relentless reading list. While these certainly provide the most interesting parts of the novel for a big SF fan like myself, it's not enough to carry the entire story. This was a great premise suffering from mediocre execution, and in the end fondness for listening to other people talk about classical science fiction shouldn't be enough to make us ignore the mundane story in which that discussion is embedded in.
This is a perfectly acceptable story but not a remarkable one, and it certainly did not deserve a Hugo nomination. It will be most interesting to those who have read a lot of classic pre-1980 science fiction, and far less interesting to anyone without such a reading background.
Coming of age story with an excellent reader. A reflective walk though of the SF genre pre-1980 by way of the characters reading habits and book club. In no way SF and only a marginal fantasy.
I don't mean that I hated THE ending, I mean that I hated the fact that it did end! What an interesting, exasperating, quirky, loveable, frustrating character. Just like a teenager, and probably like me when I was a teenager! The accent was a little bit of a challenge for me, but I am in no way an expert on what a person from Wales would have spoken like in 1979, so my difficulty was just the strangeness of it. And that ended up working congruently with the story for me. I also got not only used to it, but kind of attached to it. I can hear Mori's voice in my head right now. I think I will look for a book club.... and will also add more SF books to my "to read" list, Mori's enthusiasm is powerfull!
I absolutely loved this story, I loved how the story was told to me, and I loved the characters. I can't say enough about this book, I really enjoyed it!
There was no real plot. Just like reading an interesting journal with a weird fight at the end.
Only if recommended by someone I trust.
She was actually amazing.
Characters were fine; they just needed to do something.
I bought this book because of the award but was very disappointed. I wish someone would have told me there was no real plot and a weak story to this book.
I love fantasy and science fiction and loved the references to various authors and books. I enjoyed the main character and the story but it felt unfinished to me. I wanted more clarity at the end. I liked the world that Jo Walton created and that you were unsure whether the faerie world was real or something created by our main characters mental instability. I wanted more of the faerie world and I felt the ending was quick and unsatifying. It could have been carried into another book. As it was it felt unfinished.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
I rated the performance higher than the story because I thought that the narrator brought a special depth to this story. While the action of the book covers a relatively short period of time, from September 5, 1979 to February 29, 1980 the narrator does this interesting thing with the first person point of view character's accent. It moves from an educated Welsh accent to boarding school English as she spends time at the expensive English boarding school that her English aunts send her to, then slips back a little more toward the Welsh when she is again with her mother's family, but not as strongly marked.
Probably a pretty obvious progression, but it kind of crept up on me as I listened this book and some narrators/producers might not have bothered. I've tried a couple of Audible books recently that I did not buy because I sampled them and thought the narrator was sub par.
This is probably a love it or hate it book. I found it easy to identify with the main character who used books as a comfort and guide. I can see where others might find the references, not just to science fiction and fantasy stories, but to historical fiction, Victorian children's fiction, and Plato to be tiresome, but for me they enriched the narrative.
I don't know if this is book I could recommend unless I knew you very well, but I liked the audible version very much for some reasons that had nothing to do with just enjoying the story.
(No spoiler here.) The final scenes which reveal (I think) what the story was really all about.
Excellent. I am not sure about her Welsh accent, but she has me convinced. First rate, and a difficult role.
The book is more of a coming of age story than anything else. There is no SF in it at all, and even the fantasy is thin - this is not a negative criticism.
I love the quirky main character
Almost everything!!! The main character was Welsh and I've heard Welsh people speaking English but NEVER with an accent like that. It was so bad I had a hard time listening to it.
Her other accents seemed fine.
I could not recommend the story or the narrator. The story is essentially a teenage girl reading her diary as she writes it. Despite the fact that it is a teenage girl the narrator manages to make her sound like an old woman. The story is about as interesting as an real teenage girl's diary. None of the characters are engaging and really nothing happens. You get a lot of reviews of older science fiction works since the main character has a penchant for SF, and sad to say that is actually the most interesting part of the book. Save your credit and go elsewhere.
Actually having a story would have been interesting.
The narratorstries so hard to have a Welsh accent that she ends up sounding like the old witch the main character claims her mother is.
The story is interesting and fun. The performance, however, is wonderful. Katherine Kellgran makes this book a great listen.